Every once in awhile I happen upon an article about money or blogging that really gets me fired up. And then I get fired up enough to write my feelings/opinions about said article. Over the weekend I read a piece from Bitch Magazine, about how lifestyle blogs are potentially hazardous. I wanted to focus on the article, because I do agree with the author, and this is something that has been nagging at me for awhile. “Lifestyle” blogs are dangerous for two reasons a) I think they promote a culture of “comparisonitis” and fear women look at these blogs and feel “less than” and b) they glamorize a return to blissful domesticity and housewifery that we haven’t seen in…well, awhile. You may have already read my rant-filled piece on what I think about fashion blogs , and if you enjoyed that then you are in for a treat today. If you did not like it, then just buckle up and bear with me.
I’m not talking about every single lifestyle site out there, but you know the kind I am talking about: polka dots in their web design, usually a picture of the blogger with her husband (even though he never has anything to do with the blog), at least ten references to said “hubs” in each post, and they gush about how much fun it is to stay at home, vacuum, and can preserves. I kid, I kid. More so than that these blogs seem to promote a sort of stepford-eque housewife stereotype, what the author of the Bitch article, Holly Hilgenberg, describes as “conventionally attractive, straight, happy white women with beautiful homes, playful children, and quirky recipes”. Total up the sum of these parts and you have “…an accumulation of such choices promotes a homogeneous narrative indistinguishable from those that have come before.” What if you don’t fit into those categories? Is your life any less beautiful?
There is nothing wrong with having a blog and expressing your satisfaction with your own life, I believe that joy is meant to be shared and blogging is a great medium for that. I’m sure staying at home is amazing, f***, I would love to stay home all day, but the feminist in me rallies against that sh!t. If I was just going to stay at home and garden in my backyard, why bother going to college and accumulating student loan debt? Why bother even stabbing at a career in the first place? The instagram-ed photos of the exquisite house and happy children make a very strong case for a beautiful, simpler kind of life than the one I’m living now. Still, if any young woman I personally know were to say “I’m just going to get married and be a lifestyle blogger after college” they’d be laughed out of the room. Enough women (married and single alike) are reading these blogs so it must be something many women idolize. Staying at home and rearing children is one of the most difficult and noblest professions (from what I’ve seen and heard). Why are you touting it as a design-filled vacation?
Often times, when I initially tell people about my blog, people roll their eyes and assume it is a daily post about my dog, my life, or what projects I’m doing around the house. Some lifestyle bloggers, at least the ones who aren’t very good at it, give the rest of us a bad name.
These blogs make it clear that most women enjoy what I call “the fluff”. Don’t get me wrong, I spend as much time on pinterest as the next lady dreaming about my future spouse, future house, future kids. It’s escapism and it is fun. In addition to this, lifestyle blogs offer a voyeurs dream, a peek at what is is like to be a fly on a wall. That impulse can be nearly impossible to resist, which leads me to my other point: I don’t read lifestyle blogs because they make me want. It could be a throw pillow, or man, or a cupcake, but I try to avoid such sites the way I avoid magazines. If I see a beautiful picture whether it be online or in a magazine, I am going to want. Period. And it doesn’t matter when I want something if I can afford the object of my desire or not; I either buy it, which is bad for my wallet, or feel sad I can’t have it, which is bad for my self-esteem. And then I eat something. It’s just how I work.
Better still, I am a single, childless woman, with an up-and-coming blog that keeps me busy, and I don’t even have my life as together as some of these women with their Anthropologie outfits and home grown vegetables. It is every woman’s choice as to her occupation whether it be homemaker, lawyer, or Indian Chief. My mom stayed home, and I appreciate it all the time. This is what our feminist forebears fought for: the right for us to choose our own destiny. Still, I think it is dangerous to paint this domestic life for all to see without any substance or thought or insight into the conversations about what went into those decisions. Just as it is in actual life, I doubt it is all sprinkles, Kate Spade, and kittens.
There is another great blog post from NY Mag about how lifestyle bloggers don’t talk about sex . I mean, they’re married right? And yet they never talk about sex. Why do we think that is? Do most women really only care about filling their house with beautiful (and they are always beautiful) items rather than seeking fulfillment in the office or between the sheets? Am I just a minority? Lifestyle blogs make me think so. No wonder we can’t get employers to pay women the same amount a man gets, they probably think all I care about is my crock pot, my biological clock, and what color my curtains are going to be. Too harsh? Hop on the internet and take a whirl.
My friend Carrie LOVES the cooking blog “How Sweet It Is”, she gushed to me about it, and then she talked about how she wanted to see more pictures of the blogger and her messy kitchen, more insight into her life just as it was while she created the recipes she’s become so famous for. True, as money-making bloggers we have to keep the peace between revenue and readers, fashion and lifestyle bloggers most of all. What advertiser wants to sponsor a hot-ass mess? Still, I think many would be surprised to find how much authenticity and honesty blog readers really want these days.
What do you think? Are lifestyle blogs the undoing of the feminism as we know it? Or are they just harmless fun?
Wait! What is something ALL bloggers can agree on? A great giveaway!
I attempted to do this giveaway over the holidays, but it didn’t go so well, so we have uped the ante and are trying it again. There is MORE prize available, and you can use it for save the dates, or cute thank you notes for all those awesome holiday gifts you got. You can visit Colleen’s amazing store here. 15 Cards of your choice are up for grabs.